In a few weeks, the University of Minnesota Press will launch the new Mechademia: Second Arc series of books – the successor to its Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts titles that appeared between 2006 and 2015. This first volume’s theme will be “Childhood”, the next two, “Transnational Fandoms” and “Materialities Across Asia” are scheduled for release later in the year, it will then move to a twice-a-year publication calendar. The Call for Papers for Volume 13.1, “Queer(ing), is open until June 1, and the CFP for 13.2 is now available.

The theme for Mechademia: Second Arc issue 13.2 is “Soundscapes”, and it will be edited by Dr. Stacey Jocoy, Associate Professor of Musicology, Texas Tech University.

“This issue of Mechademia will consider sound and soundscapes, broadly conceived, as an aspect of the deeper narratives of anime, manga/ manhua, gaming, and related fields. The editors invite papers of 5000 to 7000 words revolving around critiques, musicological, socio-cultural, musico-psychological, music theory and analytical approaches, and acoustical considerations toward the investigation into the global ramifications of soundscapes.”

The full CFP is available on the Mechademia website, and submissions are due by June 15. Some potential topics it suggests include:

  • Music, sound, and narrative in anime, manga, gaming, and other East Asian media, including sound effects and musical iconography
  • Musical allusions to notable compositions, performers, or genres (e.g. classical, jazz, rock, traditional folk musics)
  • Media representations of idol singers, musicians, bands
  • Image songs, character albums, podcasts, and other tie-in audio media
  • Fan creations: AMVs, MMVs, Vocaloids, Desk Top Music (DTM) software
  • Voice acting, seiyû, voice-based celebrities

The issue will be published in the fall of 2020.

Ed. note: In my opinion, so far, the scholarship on the very significant place that music occupies in Japanese animation has been decidedly uneven – with some emphasis on several topics, but very little on others. For example, perhaps predictably, going along with the general tendency to prioritize academic writing on Hayao Miyazaki’s works, the musical aspects of Studio Ghibli films are explored by Kyoko Koizumi in An animated partnership: Joe Hisaishi’s musical contributions to Hayao Miyazaki’s films (in the Equinox Publishing 2010 essay collection Drawn to sound: Animation film music and sonicity), and in Marco Bellani’s “The parts and the whole: Audiovisual strategies in the cinema of Hayao Miyazaki” (Animation Journal, 18) and “From albums to images: Studio Ghibli’s image albums and their impact on audiovisual strategies” (Trans: Revista Transcultural de Musica, 16). In addition, although this is not immediately its evident from its title, “The localization of Kiki’s Delivery Service“, by Andrea Roedder, in Mechademia, 9, primarily examines how the 1997 home video release of the film the U.S. had a music score that was significantly edited from the original Japanese one.

The foundational essay collection The Cartoon Music Book does include a “Robots, romance, and ronin: Music in Japanese anime” chapter, and the Made in Japan: Studies in Popular Music volume in Routledge’s Studies in Global Popular Music series covers the topic in “The interaction between music and visuals in animated movies: A case study of Akira” and “The emergence of singing voice actors/actresses: The crossover point of the music industry and the animation industry”. One more title – and one I specifically want to highlight, and hope to be able to discuss more in the future is Yoko Kanno’s Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack (Bloomsbury, 33 1/1 Japan series)On the other hand, the only English-language paper I am aware of that looks not just at music in manga – in this case – but also at musicians – is Sound affects: Visualising music, musicians, and (sub)cultural identity in BECK and Scott Pilgrim (Studies in Comics) – and this is despite the many prominent anime and manga where music and music performance are key elements of the plot. Just some that immediately come to mind include Kids on the Slope, Nodame Cantabile, and Sound! Euphonium – to say nothing of Macross!

So, needless to say, I am looking forward to seeing the essays that are submitted – and to how they expand the range of English-language scholarship on the broad topic of music and sound in anime/manga and related genres beyond how it has been studied so far!

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